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Preview: It's Just Not Dinner Without Cat Hair

It's Just Not Dinner Without Cat Hair

Updated: 2017-07-23T01:37:44.177-05:00


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Calling my name


Temptation can be a terrible thing.Yesterday, I baked cream cheese and gluten-filled chocolate cupcakes for one of the people I cook for. The smell that filled this house was amazing; I couldn't even get away from it outside. When whipping up the batter, I got a hint of the olfactory pleasure to come and managed to catch myself a nanosecond before it was too late... I had gotten some of the batter on my finger and without thinking, I had gotten that finger about half a centimeter from my mouth before the rest of my head suddenly flew out of my backside and shrieked HEY!!!It wasn't that I wanted a taste of the gluten-filled cupcake batter. It was all about losing control due to scent. Ever have that happen? The wonderful smell of chocolate (this stuff really should be an illegal drug - it's my crack) controlled my hand and forced it toward my face. Really. It did - I have witnesses.After I made my delivery, I sat in the living room and chewed on pizza while mindlessly flipping channels, trying to figure out how I was going to make me some cupcakes, too. Because it was after 9 PM, there was no way I was going to start baking again. I had to be able to function at work. I shelved the thought, grabbed the furbabies, and went to bed.I have an annoying habit (oh, hush - I know there's more than one). I wake up, all by my lonesome, without at alarm clock, by 5 AM every day - and I am immediately wide awake. If I sleep until 5:30, I consider myself to have slept in.This morning, I woke up with an idea and a drooly pillow.I ripped through The Vault and figured out which recipes to use when, coming up with temptation. I suffered through my work day, did some running after I closed the office for the day, and then finalized it all in my mind while preparing some din-din.I seriously had to put these away, on a different floor (the basement fridge) or I was going to EAT. THEM. ALL.On a side note, watch for big changes ahead (thanks to Natalie at Gluten Free Mommy for her input). I have been working on those big changes for the last two weeks, which is why I haven't been around here. Stay tuned, people. I promise it will be swell.Note that I bit into it to show the innards- no way was I dinking around with a knife.Temptation Cupcakes(or Devils' Food Cupcakes filled with marshmallow and topped with whipped ganache)'Adapted from The VaultFor the cupcakes:3/4 cup butter, softened1 1/2 cups sugar2 eggs3/4 cup brown rice flour1/2 cup tapioca flour1/2 cup potato starch1/4 cup sweet rice flour2 tsp xanthan gum1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp kosher salt1 cup skim milk (there's got to be SOMETHING healthy in here)Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a standard muffin tin (12) with liners.In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.In another bowl, sift together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, and baking powder. Stir in the salt.Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until the flour is mostly incorporated. Pour the milk into the butter mixture and stir just until blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until incorporated.Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan to a cooling rack. Continue to cool for another 30 minutes before filling.For the ganache:8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped1/2 cup heavy cream1 tbsp sugar1 tbsp corn syrup4 tbsp butter, cut into piecesIn a 2-quart saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar and corn syrup over medium-low heat until boiling. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk briskly until the chocolate melts and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add the butter and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth.Pour the ganache into a bowl and cool, stir[...]

A childhood friend revisited


When I was more wee than I am now, I loved Strawberry Shortcake. You know, the dolls. I had quite a few of them. I even preferred them over my Barbies. I adored how the dolls smelled like their names (strawberry for Ms. Shortcake, blueberry for Blueberry Muffin, etc., etc., etc.).

In my organic delivery this past Wednesday, I received two clamshells of strawberries. I ate over half of them out of hand but wanted to do something simple but special with the remaining fruit. After rifling through The Vault for about an hour, I found an old recipe for brown sugar biscuits. Strawberry shortcake coming right up!

As always, I cut the recipe in half so that if I had a big 'FAIL' I didn't waste a bunch of flour. Lord, I hate it when that happens. Happily, this conversion was a success and I made myself sick while gorging.

I gave one to The Man but he didn't like the texture. I simply looked at him and said, "this isn't angelfood cake, dumbass. It's a biscuit. REAL strawberry shortcake." His response? "Oh." I got the same reaction from another gluten-eating friend. They said it was very good, but they're used to strawberry shortcake with angelfood cake or those little dessert cup jobs you can buy in the grocery store. Naturally, that's what they prefer.

Me? I prefer this.

Brown Sugar Biscuits
Adapted from a Vault recipe

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream + additional for brushing biscuits
1 tbsp turbinado sugar

Whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub the butter in until it becomes a coarse meal. Gradually add the cream, tossing with your fingers until moist clumps form. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and gently pat it into a round disk about 3/4" thick. Using a 1-1/2" to 2" biscuit cutter, cut 4 rounds (gathering scraps and forming the disk again as needed). Place the biscuits on the prepared pan and brush the tops with cream. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Like I said, I stuffed two of them with mashed strawberries and whipped cream last night, but I ate one with jam this afternoon and damn, was that good.



Since I am sitting here, at 7:23 in the morning, in a pair of ratty sweats instead of work clothes, because our f'ing sewer backed up AGAIN and I am waiting for someone to come and rod the line, I should respond to Lynn's tag.

The only good thing about hanging out right now is that I am cranking out a loaf of bread. I stink after cooking all day yesterday, I can't brush my teeth...ugh.

So. Six descriptive words for me.

  1. OCD. Not one word, technically, but it's true to an extent. For example, I will check The Gidge's lead 3 times (every time) before I open the door to let her out.
  2. Reliable.
  3. Trustworthy.
  4. Batshit.
  5. Musical.
  6. Creative.
  7. And one more, just for giggles - temporarily stinky.

Now I can tag people, too: Shannon, Dianne, Natalie & Ellen.

Back to bran


(image) Rice bran, that is.

I used to eat a lot of wheat bran, back in the old days. I loved me a bran muffin for breakfast and ate one nearly every day. And then we had the whole gluten issue.

I have had this recipe for years and years. I actually had forgotten about it because while it's a Vault recipe, it wasn't stored with the rest of them. I was flipping through my Joy of Cooking the other day and came across it, folded up and marking a page I can't recall at the moment.

I was totally excited because like I said, I had forgotten about it. I had picked up a box of rice bran the last time I was at the natural foods store, so I had everything on hand. I gave them a whirl yesterday morning and they turned out pretty well.

Just don't be greedy and eat more than one at a time. I learned that the hard way. Obviously I don't eat enough fiber.

Apple Cranberry Bran Muffins
Adapted from a Vault recipe

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup rice bran
1 egg
1/3 cup skim milk
1/3 cup spiced apple butter (I used my own homemade stuff)
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp molasses
1 cup finely diced peeled apple
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with muffin liners.

Place the cranberries in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the rice bran.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, apple butter, agave syrup, oil and molasses until blended.

Drain the cranberries.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, but do not combine yet. Add the chopped apple, cranberries, and walnuts to the pile and then stir all together, just until combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan - fill those cups FULL.

Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move the muffins to a cooling rack.

Creating my own busywork


I keep a binder for all of my gluten-free recipes, as well as ones I want to try. It was a little disorganized, to say the least. I had been shoving the printed versions into the front binder pocket for months, so there were papers sticking out everywhere - and finally, yesterday morning, I dropped it. Imagine that.I really needed something to organize all those pieces of paper. So I broke down and bought MasterCook 9.0 and started copying and pasting from Just Not Dinner, copying and pasting, copying and pasting. All day long. The really scary part of all this is that I now know what the nutritional content is for all of these recipes, and oh boy.How did I stay at 108 pounds for 2 years?Since I collapsed my dress orthotics with the extra 20 pounds I have put on since October or so, I guess I better pay attention to what I am putting in my mouth for a while and see how I do. I downloaded a nutrition program for my PDA and have been entering everything I shove in my mouth in there every day. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been eating far too much crap and not enough of the good stuff, like I used to.I figure that a good part of not cooking healthy for myself is that whole cooking-for-other-people thing. On Sundays, I cook for a minimum of 7 hours. One other day of the week, it's about 4 hours. Both people I cook for are...particular...about the foods they eat. So while I love-love-love to cook, it's sometimes hard to have fun when it's the same stuff over and over again. But that's okay. I love that I am helping two people important in my life eat healthy and well.I am trying to find the old me in the kitchen again. I need to stop taking the easy route of a pizza or sandwich for dinner instead of a wholesome meal. And I need to stay away from the damn Jelly Bellys and Doritos.That being said, I am now closing the container of Jelly Bellys I was noshing on while typing the last few paragraphs. Someone take these away from me, please.I made a truly delicious meal on Friday night, reminiscent of the dinners I used to make when I was in control of my snackiness. Saturday saw another Vault muffin recipe converted to gluten free (I will give the recipe in another post).When I got home from work on Friday, I had no clue what to make for dinner. The Man wasn't home (a shocker, I know) so I knew I could putz and play and cook what I would like to eat, not what he would be willing to eat. Out came the savory Vault binder. I opened up the section for chicken and rapidly flipped through the page protectors in hopes that something simple would jump out at me.I don't know if this qualifies as simple, but it has two bonuses - once I adapted it to what I wanted, I didn't have to go to the store to get additional ingredients (everything was in the pantry and fridge) and it was damn tasty.Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas & AsparagusAdapted from a recipe by Eating Well, found in The Vault1 cup chicken broth1 tbsp dijon mustard1 healthy pinch of saltFreshly ground pepper to taste2 tsp + 2 tbsp white rice flour3 boneless skinless chicken breasts1 tbsp olive oil1 cup fresh sugar snap peas1 cup fresh asparagus spears cut into 2" pieces3 tbsp minced fresh chives2 tsp champagne vinegarIn a small bowl, whisk together the broth, mustard, salt, pepper and 2 tsp flour until smooth. Set aside.Using a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken breasts until they are between 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken piece with the remaining white rice flour.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I actually used a large chef's pan for this, which worked well) over medium heat. Cook the chicken until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.Using the same skillet; stir the broth mixture and add it to the skillet along with the peas and asparagus. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to[...]



I firmly believe that things happen when they happen for a reason.For example, something very exciting for me happened a couple of weeks ago. After years of searching (apparently in the wrong damn places), I found someone that was instrumental to my childhood years. I lost track of this person after my freshman year of college (18 years ago - oh. my. god.) until two weeks ago or so when on a fluke, I found this person's father's name on the web.Honestly, if this person and family hadn't been in my life, I would swear more like a sailor than a truck driver. Amazing, considering that we were only together (although joined at the hip whenever possible) for two years, one of which we didn't like each other the whole time because of....A BOY (gasp!). Now I need to ask if she remembers the boy's name.Once we get to know each other again, I will see how this person feels about my talking about our relationship here.However, I do have to share this. She moved many miles away one summer and we didn't get to see each other again for YEARS. But we did keep in touch, writing letters, making the occasional phone call. I can't remember which school year it was (I know it was at least 8th grade but may have been 9th), a local family was going to visit her family and invited me along for the ride. I remember her brother driving us batshit the whole time...and I remember her mother buying us matching magenta sweaters, black leggings (hot back then, I tell ya), belts, and hair accessories so we could hang out as twins for Halloween.Have mercy on me. I kept that sweater until 1995, and EVEN WORE IT ON OCCASION, until a rather large hole finally worked its way through the left armpit. Even then, I cringed as I disposed of it.(giggling uncontrollably over here)I wonder if she still has a picture of that. If so and I can get a copy, I promise I will share, if she agrees.Anyway. Back to things happening for a reason.Something made me give The Gidge a puppy cut on Sunday evening, because I felt that 8 hours on my feet JUST. WASN'T. ENOUGH. For those of you that don't know what a puppy cut is and have a long-haired dog, ask your groomer for a puppy cut the next time you go and watch the eyebrows rapidly fly toward the ceiling before the groomer tries to talk you out of it.You've seen The Gidge - she's usually pretty fluffy due to her mixed breeds of shih tzu and papillon. This is an already-starting-to-grow-out puppy cut.She was mad at me for a good 24 hours, seriously. And cold. Very cold.(giggling like a loon again)Bad momma. Bad momma.Anyway (again), when I got to her hind legs, I found nasty mats that the comb had missed, primarily because The Gidge hates to be brushed or combed. She barely tolerates a regular plastic comb like my dad used to use and refuses to be touched by a slicker brush or any other type of brush that would be used on a normal dog. Normal being the operative word, of course.Something told me I needed to make my dog nearly bald and when the haircut was nearly over, I found bad mats that would have most likely needed to be cut out, anyway. So there you go.And finally. I had intended to attempt the recipe below last night, but when I got home later than normal thanks to having to pick these up:(Am I officially old now? These replace my dress orthotics, which gave out on me)I just didn't feel like cooking anything and ate leftover pizza for dinner instead. Naturally, I didn't decide that I didn't feel like cooking until I had taken two chicken breasts out and defrosted them.I forgot about the chicken breasts hanging out in the sink. Until this morning.So, without further ado, here's a tasty and light lunch or dinner for ya. It makes a lot, so cut the recipe in half or you better like leftovers. A lot.It's similar to primavera, so that's what I am running with for the name.Pasta Primavera with Cannellini Beans1 tbsp butter1 tbsp olive oi[...]

Disappointing successes or successful disappointments


It all depends on how you look at it.

For Easter, I converted two Vault recipes to gluten free. The banana cupcakes turned out okay, but the frosting I used was *gag*.

The carrot cake was based on a recipe by Alton Brown. The cake was so moist that it was TOO MOIST, like I had loaded the batter up with pudding. But it sure looked pretty. If I try this again, I will cut back on the carrots - there were a lot of them and I think that's why the cake had the texture it did.

What DID work? Well, let me tell you!

Back before Bob's Red Mill began selling gluten-free oats, I attempted to adapt my absolute favorite blueberry "power" muffin recipe by using rice bran to replace most of the oats. Big mistake. These muffins are supposed to be heavy as they are meant to be used prior to or after a workout, but the rice bran turned these into bricks. Not good.

Now that I have oats, I attempted them again. The second try was a delicious success. Next time, to make them more "powerful," I think I am going to try splitting the amount of sweet rice flour with flax seed meal to see what happens.

Now remember, if you try these, that they are meant to be a bit heavy.

Blueberry Power Muffins
Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup teff flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp egg substitute
3/4 cup fresh blueberries (I used wild blueberries, so these are chock-full - if you use wild berries, cut back to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin papers.

Combine the flours, xanthan gum, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.; stir together with a whisk. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla and egg. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture; stir together until all of the flour is just moistened. Fold in the blueberries and almonds.

Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons of batter into each muffin paper.

Bake for 18 minutes or until a tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and serve.



Everyone has addictions, whether they want to admit it or not.Right?Mine are actually quite simple. Though some of them have been known to keep me away from this site - by the time I realize I had intended to post, the addiction has locked me in its tight-fisted grip on my hair, preventing me from reaching my wireless keyboard (I can't type for shit on a laptop keyboard, you know).Addiction Number One.This is a biggie that controls many of my non-working hours. I do this in the morning. I do it at night. On certain days, I do it all day long. HIDDEN OBJECT COMPUTER GAMES.Oh, God. The secret is out. I bow my head in shame.Addiction Number Two.Reading - I love to read. I was one of those kids that started reading early and never looked back. I read the entire C.S. Lewis Lion, Witch & The Wardrobe series in third grade - over and over and over. I still have those somewhere. I should look for them. I remember being yelled at by a parental figure more than once because I was curled up with a book on a beautiful day instead of being outside - which says a lot because I grew up with a pool 20 feet out my back door.The true addiction here? Romance novels. While I love to read anything...history, geography, fiction, true crime...give me a romance any day of the week. But it's got to be a modern romance; historicals bore me with all the Lords and Viscounts and all that court crap.Addiction Number Three.Food magazines, no matter how cheesy (such as the Kraft Food and Family that arrives in the mail), sit in piles in our third bedroom until I make the time and then gather the motivation to flip through each one a second time (or ninetieth time) to rip out what I want to keep for The Vault. I figure there's about 6 months worth stacked up in there now.Addiction Number Four.Smoking. All right, I admit it. I fell off the wagon in October due to Haunted Barn stress during the week of opening. I was on and off until the middle of November when I finally gave up. I tried several times since then to quit again but can't stick. I have the nicotine inhaler and have used it a few times; I have managed to get down to 5 or 6 cigarettes a day now. I am hoping that cutting back slowly instead of just quitting like I did the last time will help me kick the habit forever.Addiction Number Five.Cherries have been my favorite fruit since childhood. My mother used to make cherry pie filling from fresh cherries and freeze it; when looking for a snack, I would often open the freezer door and search frantically for one of those clear bags with the nummies in it.Addiction Number Six.Can one call herself a "foodie" (I am not really sure if I even like that term or if I consider myself one!) if she is never without a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Thank god they're gluten free because that's one of the few carryovers from my gluten days.Addiction Number Seven.I rarely eat them out of hand, but I sure do love to bake with almonds. Or stir them into my cream of rice. Or eat them in granola.Addiction Number Eight.Oh my. I am rarely without a Glad container full of Jelly Belly jelly beans, regardless of the time of year. I am packing them in right now, between sentences.Addiction Number Nine.The smell of baking bread often drives me to make some, even though I really don't need another loaf hanging around. I try to not eat much of it because - well - carbs. I eat too many of those as it is, thanks to Addictions Six and Eight.Addiction Number Ten.Sweets with cherries and almonds together. The Vault has a lot of cherry recipes just hanging out, waiting to be tried for the first time here at Just Not Dinner. Many of them were ripped out of a pile of magazines that had accumulated around the house. Some came from family and friends. Not sure how to categorize the rest of them.I have been eyeballing this Vault recipe [...]

Little girl grown up


Funny how time flies, isn't it?

I pissed away several hours tonight putting this together. Too bad I was still so wiped out on March 1st that I didn't do this on her actual birthday...

Happy birthday to The Gidge.


Chicken all boozed up



I combined several recipes I had in The Vault to come up with this one. Really hit the spot on a Sunday night.

Chicken Marsala
From The Vault

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
10 oz crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp salt + a pinch
1/8 tsp black pepper + a pinch
1 cup brown rice flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Marsala + 2 tbsp
2/3 cup half and half
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat, then continue to boil, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup. This will take about 20 minutes or so.

Over medium heat, saute the shallot and garlic in 1 1/2 tbsp butter and 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil until shallot and garlic start to lightly brown. Add the mushrooms, 1 tsp sage, salt and pepper; cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, it evaporates, and the mushrooms are soft - 8 to 10 minutes max. Turn off the heat.

In a wide bowl, combine the brown rice flour, pinch of salt, and pinch of pepper. Pound the chicken breasts down to 1/4" thick.

Heat yet another skillet with 1 1/2 tbsp butter and 1 1/2 tsp olive oil. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, then place them in the skillet. Only turn each piece once - cook until just cooked through (4 to 5 minutes). Transfer the cooked chicken to an ovenproof baking dish (in a single layer) and place in the oven to keep warm.

Add 1/2 cup of wine to the chicken skillet and boil over high heat; scrape up all those yummy bits on the bottom of the pan. After a minute, add the reduced chicken broth, half and half and mushroom mixture and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened (8 to 10 minutes). Add the lemon juice and remaining 2 tbsp wine and the last of the sage.

Place the chicken in the sauce; spoon sauce over the top. Serve with your favorite pasta and French bread.

A girl's best friend



Who needs diamonds when there's CHOCOLATE? Not me, that's for sure. I will admit to having a few of them, but when it comes to jewelry, I am a colored-stone girl.

But back to the chocolate. I made a double batch of these, chopped them up, wrapped them, and stuck them in the freezer. Seeing as The Man hates brownies (oh, the horror...) that means that they are ALL. FOR. ME.

I better find the Leslie Sansone walking DVDs...soon.

Milk Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from a recipe found on Epicurious

1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 oz milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 tapioca flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" square baking pan and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.

Combine the butter and half of the milk chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the butter and chocolate are melted together and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

Combine the remaining ingredients and then stir into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the remaining chocolate. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a tester come out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Two of my favorite things



Blueberries and cornbread. Yum. Put them together and you get a tasty treat. Keep in mind that these are not sweet at all. If you would like them sweeter, add another 1/4 cup sugar.

Blueberry Corn Muffins
From The Vault

1 cup skim milk (original calls for buttermilk, so if you'd like, use that)
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.

Whisk together the milk, eggs and canola oil. Set aside. Combine the cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, amaranth flour, xanthan gum, and flaxseed meal. Add the blueberries and toss to coat. Add the buttermilk mixture and stir just until combined and all ingredients are moist.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.



Over the past few weeks, I have compiled a slew of recipes and pictures that need to be posted. I have been spending the bulk of my spare time lying around like a slug, just trying to get my groove back. I think I am finally caught up at work, so maybe now I will have the motivation to start updating this site again.

I hope.

The real problem is finding the pile! Stay tuned until this evening...

Kinda sorta but yet, not really


Hello again. Sorry for the lack of posts over the last month. It's not like I didn't have great recipes to post or stories to tell. With all that has been going on at work, I have been physically and mentally exhausted every day.My company's annual banquet was February 2nd - it went off without a hitch again this year and I had my second successful GF meal at the Pheasant Run Resort. The Man and I had a great time but I could barely move on Sunday (too much dancing). Then I had a...visitor...from hell, which caused me to miss a day of work and be in monstrous pain for 3 days.Oh, and the sewer backed up into the basement.We have another full-company meeting this coming Friday. I am hoping that once I get through that, life will go back to normal, as will my posting schedule.So, now my excuse-making is over.I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day. The Man sent me a dozen multi-colored roses at work (for the first time, I might add!) and I made a delicious shrimp scampi with pasta for our dinner that evening. But the dessert was stupendous and I can't believe it went together as well as it did. I didn't get home until 5:30, so the fact that we ate this at 7:30 says it all.The title of this post? I was craving black forest cake. I didn't have any kircsh in the house so I did the best with what I had.The Man and I split one since this is kinda rich. Sorry for the crappy picture. Tried to take it too late in the day and my arms were shaking after whipping the hell out of the ganache.Cherry-Stuffed Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate GanacheFrom The Vault and my headFor the cake:6 ounces bittersweet chocolate3 tbsp water5 eggs, separated1/2 cup sugarA pinch of saltFor the cherry "stuffing:"1 bag frozen sweet dark cherries2 tbsp cornstarch2 tbsp sugar1/2 cup waterFor the ganache:12 ounces milk chocolate1 1/2 cups heavy cream1/2 stick unsalted butterTo make the cake:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a half-jelly pan and line it with parchment paper. Then butter the paper and set aside.Chop the chocolate for the cake and combine it with the water in a double boiler over low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool.In a mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat for 3 minutes.In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture is very light.Combine the chocolate with the yolks, then gently fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch.To make the cherry stuffing:Combine the cherries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the cherries are soft; lightly mash the fruit with the back of a spoon. Add the sugar and cornstarch and stir until dissolved; turn the heat to low and continue to stir until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from the heat.To make the ganache:Bring the cream and butter to a boil in a saucepan; remove from the heat and then add the chocolate (chop first). Whisk until smooth and then refrigerate until thickened. Note that this recipe will make a lot more ganache than you need; I recommend a nice brownie to use the rest up (hopefully coming sooner than later).To put the whole thing together:How you do this is up to you. You can slice the cake into 3 pieces or you can do what I did, which was to use a biscuit cutter to cut 6 circles and save the leftovers for snacking. If you do the circles, you will have 2 small cakes.Place the first layer on a plate (either 1/3 of the cake if you sliced or 2 separate circles). Spread some cherry [...]

More breakfast


I can't believe I didn't post this!

I love granola. My teeth don't.

I used to make my own because the granola I liked to buy had clusters. My teeth are falling apart. Clusters weren't a good thing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I got my hands on some gluten-free oats. I had a few servings left in my last bag of Bakery on Main granola, so I decided to make some.

Happy, happy day.

I can't do the clusters - I am afraid I'll break another tooth. If you like clusters, add 6 tbsp of honey to the mix.

Nutty Fruity Granola

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp flaxseeds
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried apples, crushed into small pieces
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Combine the oats and seeds in a large bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon and vanilla.

Pour the butter mixture over the oats and seeds; toss to coat. Spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Add the raisins, cherries and apples and stir to combine. Store in an airtight container.

I'm alive...really, I am!


I have been slacking here of late, for which I apologize. But I have really good excuses.Excuse #1: With the wet and heavy snow we received a couple of weeks ago, The Gidge managed to get herself full of mats. I have been working on getting those out after work and on weekends. I have 2 more (right behind her ears, the poor thing) to get out and then we're finally done.Excuse #2: My company's annual banquet is on February 2nd and I am in charge of planning it, as usual. Because of it, I am behind at work, so I am putting in time both in the morning and after work every day, just to keep my head above water.Excuse #3: I have been falling back on my tried and true recipes for meals because quite frankly, I am brain-dead and exhausted because of Excuse #2.Excuse #4: I am trying to learn Microsoft's Expression Web because I have another work project that involves this program.Excuse #5: See Excuse #3. Replace #2 with #4.Excuse #6: Migraines, ears plugged (ergo dizziness on and off) for weeks now.I am such a whiner.I haven't forgotten about any of you and think daily of posting something - anything - just so the world is aware that I haven't died.I managed to pull 2 recipes out of the Vault this weekend and convert them - both breakfast-related.When my parents were here visiting, I found the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats. I was afraidto open the package because I knew that once I did, I would be oatmealing the hell out of everything. I really want to make my favorite meatloaf recipe (which calls for oats) but I wanted sweet breakfasty goodness before I did that.So I bet there will be meatloaf this week, since I got the goodness out of the way.This first recipe doesn't call for oatmeal. But oh, my. I ate half the cake by 2 PM today and it didn't come out of the oven until 9:30!Sorry for the crappy picture.The second recipe is going to have to wait for another day because.......zzzzzzzzzzzz.....Cranberry Almond Coffee CakeAdapted from The VaultFilling:2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries1/2 cup water2/3 cup sugar2 1/2 tbsp cornstarchCake:3/4 cup brown rice flour1/2 cup tapioca starch1/4 cup potato starch1 tsp xanthan gum1/2 cup sugar1 1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp cinnamon1/2 cup butter1 egg, lightly beaten1/2 cup milk1/2 tsp vanillaTopping:1/4 cup sugar1/4 cup brown rice flour2 tbsp butter1/4 cup sliced almonds (or other nut of your choice)Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8" round cake pan and set aside.In a saucepan, combine the cranberries and water. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the berries are softened. Add the 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch. stir well to dissolve. Continue to heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened to a pie filling consistency.In a mixing bowl, sift together 3/4 cup brown rice flour, the tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the 1/2 cup butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.In another bowl, combine the milk, egg, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix until blended.Spread half of the cake batter in the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberry filling over the dough (I sprinkled a thin layer of almonds here, too) and then spread the remaining batter over the cranberries.In yet another bowl (and I don't have a dishwasher yet!), combine the remaining sugar and brown rice flour. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and cut in until the mixture is crumb-y. Stir in the almonds and then sprinkle the topping over the top of the batter.Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes[...]




Every time I think about the word "tradition," I hear the cast of Fiddler on the Roof singing in the background.

My first New Year's Day in Illinois was spent with The Man and two loaves of pizza bread, with which we used to make, well, pizza bread. He'd watch football and I would either read or crochet.

We did the same for the next three years. We kind of got away from it for some unknown reason but I decided at 5:00 this morning that it was time to bring this tradition back. The Man is playing in a euchre tournament this afternoon, but I am following through on the pizza bread, reading and crocheting (no football, thank you very much) until he gets home, when he will have his pizza bread.

This is one of the recipes from The Vault that I have no idea where it came from. All I can tell you is that it was damn good back when and it's nearly as good in this gluten-free form.


Pizza Bread
Adapted from The Vault

1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 tsps xanthan gum
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Combine the yesat, milk and sugar is the bottom of a mixer bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so the yeast activates.

Add the flours, xanthan gum, and spices. Mix with a paddle attachment until well blended. Add the olive oil. Cover and place in a warm area to rise for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the dough into a greased loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Slice into 1/2" thick slices and top with your favorite pizza toppings, bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees for serving.


As promised


Any other time that my parents have come to visit (it's a 4 hour drive so it doesn't happen more often than once a year), we'd eaten at home a few times, but mostly went out to eat. Well, that's certainly over and done with.Since they arrived Thursday night, I have cooked a lot. What's weird is that I honestly don't recall making these types of meals for them EVER. I made the pear coffeecake, which turned out well, my favorite pork roast-bread and potato dumplings-sauerkraut meal (also mom and dad's favorite - we have to force ourselves to stop eating or we will stuff face until we're sick), shrimp and parmesan pasta with GF no-knead bread....We've eaten well. I've probably gained 5 pounds because I haven't eaten this well in quite a while. And I have beautiful leftovers in the fridge. I am really looking forward to frying up the last of the dumplings in butter - oh so good.As I had mentioned yesterday, I made the dessert I had presented at Christmas Eve, with one change - I made it in a round cake pan and sliced it into wedges instead of cutting out circles with a biscuit cutter. The Man and I were so full from dinner that only mom and dad ate any, but I will get my turn today.So. Here's the recipe for that dessert.Chocolate-Panna Cotta Cake with CherriesAdapted from The New Best Recipe and Rebecca Reilly's Gluten-Free BakingFor the cake (Rebecca's recipe, a few technique tweaks by me):2 tbsp potato starch6 tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder1 tbsp cornstarch3 eggs, room temperature6 tbsp sugar1/8 tsp salt2 tsp vanilla4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and clarifiedPreheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter an 8" round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.Mix together (I sifted them together) the potato starch, cocoa powder and cornstarch.Ribbon together the eggs, sugar and salt (she has an explanation of this in her book, but it's pretty long so I am not going to retype it - sorry). Add the vanilla and reribbon. Add the cocoa mixture in thirds, folding in after each addition. Fold in the clarified butter.Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan.For the Panna Cotta:1/2 cup whole milk1 2/3 tsp gelatin1 1/2 cup heavy cream6 tbsp sugarA 2" section of vanilla beanPinch of salt1/2 cup frozen cherries, choppedPour the milk into a medium saucepan. Evenly sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes.While the gelatin is softening, split and scrape the vanilla bean and place the seeds and pod into the heavy cream.Prepare an ice bath by placing 4 cups water and 2 cups of ice in a large bowl.After the 10 minutes are up, heat the milk and gelatin over low heat until the mixture reaches 135 degrees, whisking briskly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Add the heavy cream to the saucepan.Pour the panna cotta through a strainer into a bowl small enough to fit into the ice bath bowl without getting any water into the bowl. Add the cherries. Whisk briskly until the mixture has cooled to 45 degrees.*********Pour the panna cotta over the top of the prepared cake. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Slice into wedges and grate dark chocolate over the top for serving.[...]



How is it possible that I am thinking of things to post about every day while Just Not Dinner was not in existence, which drove me nuts, and then since the day it came back, I haven't posted squat!

Very mysterious.

It's not that I didn't have anything to say, or recipes to post. The hectic pace of getting ready for the holidays just got in the way.

But now we are really back.

I made a scrumptious gluten-free dessert for Christmas Eve dinner with The Man's family, but I neglected to take a picture. Even brought the camera with me.

Luckily, I have a parental invasion occuring as I type, and after telling my father about the dessert, he said that it sounded really good. So I have the first half cooling and will begin the second half shortly.

So that will be coming posthaste.

But I also have a delicious coffee cake to share. This is one of those Vault recipes that I dug out recently because I have an abundance of pears taking up space in the fridge. Gotta use them somehow, right?

Pear Coffeecake
Adapted from a recipe in The Vault

2 cups thinly sliced pears
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp almond meal
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Grease an 8" baking pan (I used a rectangular pan because it was handy, and it affected the thickness because the batter was more spread out. Keep that in mind). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan combing the brown sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and pears. Cook over medium heat until syrupy (5 minutes or so), stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.

Sift together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch and xanthan gum. Add the almond meal and set aside.

Combine the milk and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread out until it reaches the sides (dough is kind of sticky so be prepared). Spread the pear mixture over the top of the batter and then top with the almonds.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.



I gots all the Christmas presents I need.

Another day to go back to bed & pull the covers over my head


Today started out as any other. The Gidge got me up about 5 AM because of the whole dependent-on-me-for-potty-access thing. I took my allergy pill, brewed up a cup of chai, and sat down to catch up on what’s happening on the web.

I decided about 8 AM to make myself a kick-ass frittata for breakfast. Smoked salmon, spinach, fontina…can’t go wrong there! I whipped everything up, got it into the oven and sat down to read.

Things went downhill quickly from here.

At about 8:45, I pulled the stainless steel pan containing the frittata out of the oven and placed it on top of the stove while I got a knife, fork and plate.

I grabbed the handle of the pan. Without a hot pad or towel.

Yes, people, I did. Did any of you catch the last post before the original Just Not Dinner went “poof?” I talked about needing to be wrapped up in bubble wrap. Tri-ply bubble wrap.

Well, in this case, it would have melted to the handle and to my skin (and I am not sure which would have been worse).

I can’t close my hand right now – I have first degree (thank god that’s all) burns running across my fingers between the top and middle knuckles and again between the middle and bottom knuckles. I also have a nice red stripe across the bottom of my palm.

If this doesn’t prove that I am accident-prone, I don’t know what does.

But I had a damn good breakfast, anyway. I just whimpered in pain between bites.

Smoked Salmon Frittata with Spinach and Fontina

1 tbsp butter
½ cup onion, diced
6 eggs
½ cup milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp horseradish
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
4 oz smoked salmon, chopped
½ cup grated fontina cheese
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In an ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion and allow to sweat until the onion is soft but not browned. Remove from the heat and add the chopped spinach and salmon.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, horseradish, salt and pepper. Pour over the mixture in the skillet. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and then gently stir to combine all ingredients.

Gently place the skillet into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and slice into wedges for serving.

Beware the hot handle, people. Beware.

For the GF cookie tray: surprise package cookies


While I used to enjoy these cookies each Christmas season, they were more important to The Man and The Stepson. I skipped making them last year because of the whole unfamiliar-with-gluten-free-flours thing, but I decided that since I have had other cookie successes, I could slam-dunk this one. And I did. Gluten-eating taste-testers gave these two thumbs up.

Surprise Package Cookies
Adapted from The Vault

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp GF baking powder
1/3 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 ¼ tsp xanthan gum
1 pkg Andes Candies

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until completely incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. With rice-floured hands, shape a tablespoonful of dough around 22 candies, forming rectangular cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

When the cookies have cooled, melt the remaining Andes Candies and drizzle over the cookies.

Point taken


So, after I published the last post, I ended the evening of December 13th with the most priceless kluty move of them all – I accidentally deleted my blog!

I stared at my laptop monitor in horrified fascination, mouth agape, thirty milliseconds after I pressed the “Delete My Blog” button.

I thought I was deleting the test page I had created last March when I was playing around with templates. I had no clue I had selected the wrong blog for deletion.

My heart in my throat, I finally found the “contact Blogger email thing” and started to pray really hard. I had no idea how much I loved Just Not Dinner until it was no more.

I have read around the Net that Blogger is amazingly slow in responding to requests such as mine. I had hoped that my plea was pathetic enough to warrant a quick response as my immediate family kind of uses Just Not Dinner as a way to keep up with me. I covered another base by posting to Blogger’s Help Group thingy.

It’s been a few days now and I haven’t even gotten an email from a Bot yet. So I have decided that for now, I must carry on with the show, even though I don’t have my archives, comments, etc.

When I get my original blog back (please, please, please be soon), I will transfer the upcoming posts to that and everything will be as it should be.

I hope.

Oh, the agony


Someone needs to encase my ass in bubble wrap before allowing me to even get out of bed.But before I get to that, the damn Christmas tree is done. I made applesauce-cinnamon ornaments, screwed hooks into walnuts, and strung popcorn and cranberries.Never again with the popcorn thing. Never again.Besides, The Gidge has been pretty good about leaving the tree alone after I sprayed everywhere she could reach with Bitter Lime.And now, without further ado...How many people do you know that allow their cat to get its mouth on the fishing line you are using to make a popcorn and cranberry garland? And allow said cat to TAKE OFF WHEN THE DOG COMES TROTTING UP, while your fingers are wrapped up in said fishing line?That left a mark. It's still healing after nearly a week.Yesterday, while making the bed and simultaneously playing with the dog, I ran full-tilt-boogie into this. The post hits me (yes, this has happened more than once - you'd think I would learn already) right at the spot where the thigh meets the hip.That left a mark, too. A nice purple, green and black one.I went to the post office at lunch today to pick up some mail and get a shipping box. While pulling the mail out of my post office box, which is well above my head, the box bit my finger, which would not stop bleeding.Get the idea?Bubble wrap, people. I need some.My innards have not been up to par, either. I have been existing on yogurt, bananas and cream of rice, trying to get back to normal after god-knows-what threw my digestive system off. It's possible that while cooking for the boss on Saturday that I didn't wash my hands well enough after touching her bread and glutened my klutzy butt. Or I have a touch of some stomach bug. Leaning toward the bread and klutzy butt, though.Anyway.Tonight I decided that I needed REAL FOOD. To hell with what my stomach might feel like afterward. I rooted through the freezer and came out with some salmon, then poked through the potato bin and the crisper drawers. And ended up with dinner.Clementined Salmon with Roasted Root Vegetables & BroccoliFor the salmon:2 large salmon filets1/4 cup clementine juice (about 2 clementines)2 tbsp honey1 tbsp GF soy sauceSalt and pepperFor the roasted veggies:1 large potato, cut into 3/4" pieces1 large parsnip, cut into 3/4" pieces1 head broccoli, cut into small florets2 tbsp olive oilSea salt and pepperAsiago cheese (optional)Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.In a medium bowl, toss the potato and parsnip pieces with the olive oil. Pour them into a baking dish. Place into the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have lost their "raw sheen" and are just barely becoming fork tender.Place the salmon filets into a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the clementine juice, honey and soy sauce. Pour the mixture over the salmon and set aside. Place into the oven after the vegetables have been in the oven about 15 minutes. Spoon some of the clementine mixture over the top of the salmon every 5 to 8 minutes.Steam the broccoli until just barely fork-tender. You can do what I did - use the microwave. Those new steam bags can be a handsaver when you don't have a dishwasher, like me.When the potatoes and parsnips have begun to brown, add the broccoli to the mix. Continue to bake until the broccoli just barely browns and the salmon is cooked through, about 10 minutes (more if your salmon filets are pretty [...]